Every day many children throughout the United States, and our territories, stand and “Pledge Allegiance” to the American flag, our country, and what we represent. Many American adults proudly salute or place their hands over their hearts and say the pledge throughout their lives. While some resist most very confidently state their Allegiance to all that the United States represents. We are a nation that proclaims freedom, loyalty, peace, and justice. However, for many of us–they are words. We agree that if asked we might lay our lives down for the values of this country, but there is a difference between words and actions. Allegiance is stated–but is it always practiced?
We realize that men and women lay their lives down for our freedom and values each day–we are surrounded by this cloud of historical witnesses–but is our Allegiance stated or practiced?
Likewise, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews claims that the early Christians were surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Their history, like ours, was one of sacrifice, submission, loyalty, and faithfulness. The Christian and Jewish Histories witness Allegiance, one that was practiced. It was also one to be imitated.
Today, many Christians are concerned about “declining memberships in America,” or “an increase in young people leaving established congregations,” or even “feeling as outsiders in a consumer driven culture.” Yet Allegiance to Jesus offers us a vibrant relationship with our Lord and Savior who calls us to “follow,” “witness,” and “proclaim” salvation to others. Our great cloud of witnesses are not those who “abandon” the way but those who “endured the shame” of the one crucified on the cross. Allegiance provides us a view of true faithfulness, belief, and loyalty to the Son of God, who shows us a better way–one that offers true peace, hope, and joy.